We outline the trends in the labor market as well as how to find and apply for jobs in Austria for expats looking to move to the alpine country.
Essentially, if you speak German and are from the EU, finding jobs in Austria will be a breeze. If, on the other hand, you are from further afield and don’t speak the language, there will be a bit more to it. But fear not, because this helpful guide is here to shed light on the current trends in the job market in Austria, as well as provide information on how to find and apply for jobs in the country. You might also want to investigate average salaries in Austria and how to tailor your CV for the Austrian job market.
The guide includes the following information:
- The job market in Austria
- Requirements for working in Austria
- How to find jobs in Austria
- Self-employment and freelancing in Austria
- Traineeships, internships, and volunteering jobs in Austria
- Applying for jobs in Austria
- Starting a job in Austria
- Useful resources
The job market in Austria
Austria is renowned for its highly skilled workforce. Generally, Austria has strong agricultural, green, service, and tourism sectors. Additionally, foreign trade is a growing industry. Energy, financial services, telecoms, and real estate companies are among Austria’s top companies and employers.
However, like most countries in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the unemployment rate in Austria. In December 2020, for instance, the unemployment rate amounted to an estimated 11%, an increase from the month before. Unsurprisingly, hospitality is the hardest hit industry for jobs in Austria.
Job vacancies in Austria
For the year 2021, there are many shortage professions in Austria. Unsurprisingly, due to the global pandemic, many of these include doctors, nurses, and healthcare assistants. However, professions like roofers, opticians, engineers, technicians, payroll clerks, bricklayers, and concrete workers are also on the list.
Job salaries in Austria
Generally, the average salary in Austria is €3,790 a month which includes bonuses and social security. This is similar to most of Western Europe and much higher than in Eastern Europe. Surprisingly, there was no minimum wage in Austria until 2017. However, now, under the recent reforms, the minimum wage sits at €1,500 a month.
Naturally, different sectors have drastically different average wages in Austria. For instance, average wages as a journalist are €3,101 while a lawyer stands to make somewhere in the region of €4,354 per month. To find out more, the comparison site Teleport provides interesting average salary approximations for various jobs in Vienna. The professions listed range from dentists to chefs to interior designers, and are in USD.
Work culture in Austria
As a traditional nation, you will find that the business culture in Austria is fairly formal. Furthermore, there is typically a clear hierarchy. This means that top-tier employees make the decisions in most companies, and roles are clearly defined.
Additionally, the sense of community is strong in Austria and, therefore, the welfare system is very supportive. Loyalty is a dominant feature of the local business culture and businesses typically support those who are made redundant with packages. Notably, punctuality is paramount in Austria in both the business culture and life outside of work.
Labor laws and labor rights in Austria
The labor laws in Austria are an elaborate mixture of collective bargaining agreements, shop-floor agreements, and employment contracts. Notably, a written employment contract or statement of employment terms between employer and employee is not necessary to secure a job in Austria. An oral agreement between the two parties is all you need. In Austria, collective agreements are legally binding contracts that represent both employer and employee. These create a balance of interests on both sides by establishing minimum working conditions. Read more about EU workers’ rights in our guide.
Requirements for working in Austria
Similar to other EU states, Austria offers broad protection and rights for its employees. Those who are from the EU will find that they are able to readily find work, particularly if they speak German.
Work visas in Austria
If you are from outside of the EU and EEC, you will need to obtain a work permit to work in Austria. Luckily, an Austrian employer may recruit a foreign national but they must apply for approval and an employment permit from the regional employment office. Additionally, foreign employees who are posted by their employer to work temporarily in Austria are covered by Austrian employment law.
Language requirements to work in Austria
Because the official language in Austria is German, and the vast majority of the population speaks German, you are best off learning the language. Luckily, there are plenty of language learning apps and courses that you can use to do this. And because many other nations in the EU also speak German, it will certainly come in handy if you plan to travel the region.
There are still possibilities out there for English-speaking jobs, however, and you can check our Expatica jobs board as well as the English job section of The Local. Another option is to keep an eye on Xpat Jobs for various vacancies for English speakers across several different sectors and industries.
Qualifications to work in Austria
As with most things, if you are from an EU or EEC country, your university degree and other qualifications should be recognized in Austria and you don’t need to do anything. However, if you are from another country, you will need a nostrification in Austria. In order to get this, you will need to apply to the relevant public university. You should know within three months whether you need to do any supplementary examinations.
In Austria, regulated professions include architects, doctors, nurses, teachers, physiotherapists, and some specific trades. Along with your recognized university degree, you will need to have German language skills to work in these fields.
For all non-regulated professions, however, you can start your job search immediately as long as you hold a validation from the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (ENIC-NARIC Austria).
Tax and social security numbers in Austria
If you are working for yourself in Austria, you must register for social security (Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen). You should also register your business with the tax office and get a tax identification number (TIN). You can do both of these at the local district office. Conversely, if you are working for an employer, they will register you on your behalf.
Other requirements in work in Austria
Several jobs in Austria require a criminal record check. This includes security, childcare, and police work. This check can be easily obtained from your local police department in Austria or from abroad through this form.
How to find jobs in Austria
Initially, you can begin your job search by researching the sector and types of roles that you are interested in. Then, you will want to explore the following:
National AMS Jobseekers Austria
The AMS eJob-Room is the largest job market place in Austria. You can download the free app on your smartphone and have access to job vacancies as well as a personal mailbox for your applications, which includes apprenticeships.
EURES (Europe Employment Services website)
EURES is a European cooperation network of employment services, designed to facilitate the free movement of EU, EEA, and Swiss workers. It is an excellent resource for job hunting throughout the EU and a good place to begin your search for jobs in Austria.
Job search sites
- Expatica jobs board – advertises a plethora of interesting positions in Austria at various levels
- Jobs in Vienna – if you are living in Vienna, this is a great site for finding work, even if you are not German-speaking
- Karriere – a large career portal in Austria
- Career Jet – the international search engine with a filter for Austria
- Indeed – another international site with an Austrian version
Media and social media
- Der Standard – the job search site for newspaper Der Standard
- LinkedIn – many expats find this professional networking site useful for finding work. Job postings and suggestions are also frequently listed.
If you are a teacher or are having difficulty finding an English-speaking position in Austria, teaching English is always an option. Although it is not a huge market like in some other countries, you can still look into it before deciding whether or not to take a TEFL course to get certification.
Here are some English teaching job sites that might be helpful:
- TEFL Jobs Centre – the leading site for English teaching jobs around the world which is updated every week
- Go Overseas – a resource that features several English teaching programs and jobs throughout Austria
- Total ESL – a popular site for teaching jobs abroad
- TESall – a large international teaching jobs resource
Another way to find jobs in Austria is to get in touch with recruitment agencies that operate in the country. Below are some options that you might want to explore.
Recruitment and temp agencies
- Manpower – leading recruitment and temp firm in Austria where you can get your name on the books and let them do the job hunting for you
- Aviteus – specifically recruits specialists and managers in Austria
- Hays – a global recruitment agency that operates across 33 countries with offices in Vienna and Graz
- Michael Page – a professional recruitment consultancy that specializes in placing candidates in permanent, contract, temporary, and interim positions around the world
- Euro Science Jobs – a good resource for finding work within the field of science in Austria
- Career Competence – the largest annual job and career fair in Western Austria
- Trade Fair Dates – has a filter for job trade fairs in Austria
Self-employment and freelancing in Austria
Unfortunately, self-employment is not hugely popular in Austria. That said, in 2019, there were 482,700 self-employed people in the country. This is an increase of 17,600 from 2018, which signifies that it is on the rise.
This is perhaps due to the fact that starting a business in Austria is fairly simple in terms of requirements; particularly given the fact that any citizen of an EU country, Switzerland, or the European Economic Area can start a company. All other foreigners, however, must first get a residence permit. Additionally, you have to be at least 18 years old and must not have a criminal record.
Then, you must apply for a trade license from the local district authority. After that, you can register your business with the Austrian Commercial Register. You will need to translate all documents into German with an official translation service such as lingoking. The official copies must also be certified by a notary. Then, after you have paid the registration fees, your business can legally trade.
This is also the case for freelancers working in Austria as they typically work with various clients on a range of projects. In fact, there is much in common between the two and both will need to file freelance taxes as well as pay social security and insurance. Unfortunately, both also have less protection under Austrian labor laws. Recently, Austria brought in a new category called “new self-employed” for those who don’t fall into the freelancer category. Typically, this includes authors, experts, translators, and musicians.
In Austria, being self-employed as an expat means that you can register a company and sponsor your own working visa. Conversely, this is much more difficult and the reason why the majority of expats in the country work for existing companies.
Traineeships, internships, and volunteering jobs in Austria
Essentially, there are two forms of internship in Austria. You can either join as a volunteer or work as an employee. For students wishing to work to eventually become an employee, the usual labor laws apply. Conversely, for volunteers, they do not apply.
Although German language skills are an asset, many of the opportunities are in the tourism industry where English and other languages may be a benefit. Beneficially, if you do a placement within a hotel or restaurant, you are likely to get free accommodation and food. Otherwise, in places like Vienna, you will find that flatshares are fairly easy to find.
As mentioned, EU passport holders and EEC citizens receive the same treatment as Austrians and require no work or other permits. However, non-EU-residents need a work permit.
Here are a couple of sites that you can check to search for internships:
- Erasmus – a renowned program where you can apply for internships and placements in Austria
- Student Job – advertises volunteer, part-time, and internship positions for students all over Austria with a breakdown of each city
Applying for jobs in Austria
In Austria, you will generally apply for a job by sending a CV and a cover letter. Hopefully, this will lead to an interview for the position. This may be with your main boss or it could involve several people from the company depending on how big it is. Second interviews are also common in Austria. In general, Austrian employers are careful and tend to take their time making decisions, so don’t expect an answer overnight.
You will want to carefully craft your cover letter and CV to cater to the Austrian requirements. For example, in Austria, the cover letter is considered even more important than the CV as it contains more about your individual character and personality. Importantly, it should be written in German if at all possible. Typically, Austrian employers want to see written references from each of your previous employers. These references should include your job title and time spent working in the role, as well as details of the tasks you undertook and your responsibilities. You should also have a summary of your accomplishments and personal behavior that will reflect well on your character.
Starting a job in Austria
Once you have landed your dream job in Austria, you have little to worry about except wowing your employer. Fortunately, your employer will enroll you in all the necessary social and health insurance policies, including your pension.
However, you will likely want to read up on the Austrian business culture to ensure that you nail it from the get-go and don’t make any cringe-worthy faux pas. For example, unlike in some countries around the world, staying late to appear enthusiastic will actually make you seem inefficient in Austria. Austrians also value their work-life balance immensely which is good news for expats.
- Migration Austria – a government site about working in Austria
- SHRM – a human resources article about new flexitime rules in Austria
- Eurofound – a page about job-sharing in Austria
- Vienna Business Agency – a reource for local business events, especially in the start-up and innovation sectors
- Business Upper Austria – the Upper Austrian government agency with networking initiatives in the city as well as programs that support entrepreneurial innovation